• 1

From the Board

Dear IFS Friends and Colleagues:

In these remarkably polarizing times, the need for Self-led people and systems is dramatically clear. Discovering appropriate action on our path forward can be challenging. I certainly have parts that want to react to this state of affairs in compelling ways. Getting them to step back, and listening to them, requires time and attention, and can produce remarkable insight. Not surprisingly, Self-led action arises in relationship and in community. Directly engaging in political discourse is one action; acting to help the lives of others is another. Understanding and using the principles of IFS is uniquely valuable, even more so in these times.

As an independent nonprofit organization, the Foundation for Self Leadership has engaged in this work since 2013 in partnership with you and in collaboration with CSL. We formed to help establish the validity of IFS as a therapeutic approach and to support the integration of IFS principles both within and beyond the therapeutic sphere. The need for this expanded application has grown since then, and the opportunities have grown simultaneously. The successful response to these needs requires all who are able and willing to join in the effort, each in his or her own way.

Building on our initial successes, the Foundation Board has now focused our efforts to support the expanded strength of research validation and to develop opportunities to bring the fundamental principles of IFS to communities that would not necessarily have access to them—specifically focusing on youth and marginalized communities. In this edition of Outlook, you’ll learn about these important, exciting, and inspiring developments.

The need to create and expand these opportunities is more urgent than ever. Our success will be dependent upon the number of people helping. On behalf of the Foundation Board, we invite you to join us in any/every way that is right for you as we bring notions of IFS and Self-leadership to our world in this time of need. We look forward to growing with you and successfully lending a Self-led hand in these compelling times.



Harley Goldberg, D.O.
Chair, Board of Directors



from the IFS OUTLOOK editor

From the Editor

It is comforting that our very own community, with ever-growing Self leadership, continues to bring hope to those desperately searching for deeper connection and healing. Each member of our community is valuable and plays an important role in his/her world.

Here in these pages of OUTLOOK, we bring you glimpses of the varied ways in which members of our community are serving as hope merchants to the masses and securing continued validation of the Model through empirical research. Stories of IFS within schools, spiritual organizations, and on screen are sure to captivate your interest.

As the illusion that we are separate steadily crumbles, each day more people realize just how inextricably we are all connected. When one begins to have a palpable sense of this internally, it is much easier to feel it within one’s family, community, and even our world at large. We thank each of you for doing your part to catalyze deeper healing and connection in our world. __MLG


 Inward & 



Independent International IFS-Oriented Research

A German study published in May 2017 (see https://link.springer.com/article/10.1007/s41465-017-0023-6) reveals the positive impact of knowing one’s own system of parts. The study, conducted by Tania Singer, PhD; Lukas Hermann; Anne Bòˆckler; and Fynn-Mathis Trautwein of Max Planck Institute for Human Cognitive and Brain Sciences in Berlin, and Tom Holmes, PhD, of Western Michigan University in Kalama- zoo, examined the effects of 141 individuals who took part in a contemplative training course over a nine-month period. Subjects participated in three types of training modules, each lasting three months: (1) basic mindfulness training based on Jon Kabat-Zinn’s practice; (2) self-compassion training based on the work of Kristin Neff and Chris Germer; and (3) a perspectives module based on IFS.

Results of the study conclude that the number of inner parts that subjects were able to identify in themselves, particularly negative parts, positively correlated with their ability to understand the intentions and beliefs of others. “This insight could prove important in an increasingly complex and interconnected world where taking the view of others, especially those from different cultures or with different religious backgrounds, becomes ever more difficult and ever more necessary,” say the study’s authors. Though the study did not speak of the impact of compassion, the study validates what many of us in IFS have known—the positive impact we can have in our world when we know (and heal) our parts.

Tania will discuss the study in depth and present Training Your Mind, Heart and Brain: Effects of a Nine-Month Contemplative Mental Training Program on Brain Plasticity, Well-Being, Compassion, the Self, and Health on Saturday afternoon at this year’s IFS Conference.

Funded Physiology Study Update

In addition to funding a pilot study that examined the efficacy of IFS in treating complex trauma, which showed promising results and is now in the process of being published, the Foundation has also granted a research award through an independent review to a study assessing physiological effects of IFS on clients and therapists.

This study is led by the Computational Behavioral Lab at Northeastern University (Rick Palumbo, PhD, co-PI) and the Trauma Center at JRI (Hilary Hodgdon, PhD, co-PI). The study, which started in May 2016, involves additionally four research investigators, four clinicians, a clinical supervisor, and a project coordinator.

Approach: Electrodermal activity (a measure of sympathetic nervous system activity through a two-unit system strapped to the wrist and

chest), motor movement, body temperature, and cardiac activity are measured for both client and therapist during one IFS session. Patterns and relationships between subjective, behavioral, physiological, and client-therapist dyadic processes associated with IFS are then statistically analyzed.

Progress: Assessment codes and study procedures have been finalized, IRB approvals secured, and monitoring equipment acquired and calibrated. The study has entered its second phase. Eleven subjects were determined eligible (from 36 screened), five of whom sat for their IFS session and completed the study. Additionally, scales have been adopted for both client and therapist to provide, as they watch the session’s video following the session, their self-reports on their own physiological arousals and their psychosocial states, including the therapist’s assessment of their access to a Self-state during the session.




In Psychotherapy
& Counseling


Toni Herbine-Blank, MS, RN, C-SP needs little introduction these days, but for those of you who have not yet heard of her, she is an IFS Lead Trainer, developer of Intimacy from the Inside Out© (IFIO), and Clinical Specialist Psychotherapist in Durango, Colorado. It’s a pleasure to bring to you a conversation with her about her evolution and of her contributions to IFS.

OUTLOOK: Welcome, Toni. Thank you for taking some time to sit down with me and our IFS community. Because different individuals have their own story of how they came to IFS, I’d like to begin by asking you: What drew you to IFS?

Toni: Good to be here, Michelle. Mine was a unique story. One, because I didn’t know anything about IFS when I signed up for my Level One in 1999/2000, though it came highly recommended from a very good friend of mine. And two, I was not immediately enamored with the Model and had quite a bit of resistance to it. But one day it clicked, when one of my trainers, Michi Rose, spoke about the relationship between protectors and exiles, and that’s when my curiosity piqued. Equally important was watching Dick work, which was very profound.

O: You have come a long way since then. Now, after having used IFS for many years, what do you like most about it?

TH-B: The thing that was most moving to me, back when I started working with my individual clients with IFS, was being part of this very gentle, respectful way of helping people understand and learn to love themselves in a new way. You know, assisting with all parts making meaning of their system and loving and appreciating who they are through unblending—that was extremely moving to me. Sometimes that blows people away, but this idea that you can witness yourself so profoundly and change your feeling toward yourself and even more over time, is one of the things I like so much about the Model.

O: I agree, while unburdening brings such amazing healing, unblending is incredibly profound and often easily overlooked. As you grew with IFS, at some point you became a trainer and contributor of training curricula. What inspired you to become a trainer and how has it been for you?

TH-B: I had no ambition to become a trainer when I was in my L1. It was Dick Schwartz really; he approached me pretty early in my training and asked if I would be interested. I asked if that entailed doing demos in front of groups. When his answer was yes, I quickly declined. “You work on that part and I’ll get back to you,” he said, and that’s how that started. I give a lot of credit to him and Mike Elkin for helping me work with my parts who had terrible performance anxiety. I love being a trainer, I really love it! I love inspiring therapists to become better therapists and helping them to work

ToniHerbine Blank photo“Sometimes that blows people away, but this idea that you can witness yourself so profoundly and change your feeling toward yourself and even more over time, is one of the things I like so much about the Model.”

with their parts to learn what it means to be really present and hold space for someone’s work. It’s the place I feel in Self a lot of the time. It’s a wonderful feeling.

O: That’s a great story and what a wonderful impact you are having on so many people, both directly and indirectly. Was the curriculum specific to IFIO or was that before IFIO was developed?

TH-B: It was before IFIO and actually before the Level Two advanced training existed. While being part of an advisory group with Dick and IFS becoming more organized, I along with other trainers developed a long weekend for couples’ work. I wrote the curriculum for this training. This, along with three other weekends, became L2.

O: Is this how IFIO came to be?

TH-B: Yes! People would get to the end of that weekend frustrated because there was not enough time to delve into basic protocols, let alone more complex situations. I took Dick’s protocol for couples and developed a way to teach it in a way IFS therapists could apply it and then began to add to it. In 2010, at my suggestion, we did a pilot training, which was filled instantly with a huge waiting list. This gave the message that people were interested in learning how to move from individuals to systems, which entails a different skill set, as we work with a lot more parts. [Both laugh.]

O: Very true! It sounds like it was an organic unfolding. To me, IFIO is an exquisite and beautiful process, both to witness and to be part of. How would you best capture what IFIO is about?

TH-B: It’s the belief that your ability to attach, connect, and love externally is only going to be exponentially greater if you can do that with yourself. This has been said many times before. It’s a spiritual focus, but it’s not what’s current in couples therapy. This is a differentiation model, as opposed to the popular attachment models, which are beautiful. What we are asking people to be able to do is differentiate internally, which is Self-to-part, before they look to their partner as their primary resource. Then to bring that as a resource to change the conversation and to do healing internally and within


their relationship with the Self-parts model. This is a paradigm shift and is different for a lot of couples therapists. To unblend and regulate and understand yourself and how you think about yourself, is what Dick calls a U-turn. I talk about that we do the U-turn so that we can Re-turn in a different state of mind. We are not asking them to go in and meet all their own needs, but to wait and unblend and have stability, Self, and kindness toward themselves to be able to change their conversations.

O: This is such a beautiful way of being both with ourselves and one another. It brings hope for a vastly different world. I have only heard positives about the IFIO training, that they are very popular, and one needs to commit immediately when a training opens up. Why do you believe IFIO has become such a big influence, at least within IFS?

TH-B: I think that it’s one of many offerings that is coming out of the IFS model. I do believe that, in this world of ours, people are desperately looking for something to change their relationships, whether they are intimate or global relationships. People are really struggling. Therapists are also struggling to find ways that really work to help people in relationships, change their conversations, and deepen their ability for relating and loving. It’s a desperate need, universally. Also, I have a core staff of twelve highly skilled IFS/IFIO therapists and this makes a huge difference. They are very dedicated and have helped me to develop it. We are all so very bonded as a team; relationally, that profoundly affects the training. Their feet are solidly in the mud with me. I am so blessed!

O: This is so true, especially given IFIO is about relationships, both inner and outer. You and your team are modeling this with your trainees. Last year, along with Dick and Pam Krause, LCSW, you put together the first online IFS Circle training and now this year have expanded the online learning with the IFS Continuity program, how has this been for you?

TH-B: Pam Krause and I put together the teaching of the Model for the Circle program, which is now in its second year. We had a blast with each other and did it in record time, it was a lot of fun! It’s really a great contribution and Dick’s pieces add a lot. It’s a real hoot and is a lively hour. My portion of the

Continuity program runs from September through December. I’m assuming it’s going to be the same thing. I don’t believe these are anything to replace the training. They are a taste. We created twelve one-hour modules in the Circle, whereas the L1 is 120 hours of training, so, it’s really not a replacement. It’s a huge invitation for people to understand the Model and see what the process is like.

O: The fun and camaraderie you and Pam shared was obvious and it made it all the more inviting. It may be too early to tell, but are those who took the Circle grasping the Model more thoroughly when they begin their L1?

TH-B: Yes, I think people are. Without some investigation, we won’t know for sure. I do think that people are coming into their L1 with a better understanding. Plus, they have all the lessons and videos to go back to for life, which is a great resource.

O: That’s right. Well, with so much you’ve already done with and for IFS, where do you anticipate IFS going in the future and its impact within our world?

TH-B: I believe, and it is my impression, that all of a sudden, things have exploded. For a while along the way, those of us who love the Model asked, “Why are we not more visible?” But for a variety of reasons, including research, IFS is getting on the map in the mainstream now. I only see that developing, not only in the psychotherapeutic community, but I know there are people very interested in working with people in business and executive coaching, for example. It seems as though it’s beginning to spread into different modalities more quickly now. So, I imagine that is the trajectory and it’s going to keep going that way. I’m very happy for us all, especially Dick, that IFS is being noticed more.

O: Yes, it certainly has a lot momentum now. These are exciting times for the growth, validation, and expansion of this healing model. Thank you so much for all you have done and continue to do and for your time in sharing yourself with the community.

TH-B: You’re welcome, it’s been my pleasure. I love this community.


Research Validated IFS Scale

In 2003, Lia DeLand, MS, created the IFS Scale, an IFS-based personality scale that allows therapists an advantageous overview of a client’s internal system. The 57-item questionnaire asks individuals to report how often they experience different feelings and thoughts. Their answers are then organized into ten subscales (Self; parts: Pleasing/Abandoned, Addictive/Impulsive, Anxious/Pessimistic, Dissociating, Exiles, Raging, Self-Critical, Self-Harming; and Total Parts). This classification assists therapists in determining the following about a client’s system: (1) what types of parts dominate; (2) how extreme the parts are; (3) the present degree of access to Self-leadership; (4) the type of manager and firefighter parts protecting; and (5) upon retest, the progress made with IFS therapy. This overview of how a client’s system is organized may assist therapists in determining how long it might take to engender inner harmony and balance. While very useful for clinical purposes, it also has merit for use in research protocols.

The scale, studied in 2001–2002 by Lia as part of her master’s program, along with Dawn L. Strongin, PhD, and Richard C. Schwartz, PhD, yielded very strong reliability (Cronbach’s alpha, a = .98). The scale was tested on 1,174 American and Canadian subjects who did not represent a random population, with 46% identifying as having experienced “more or much more” trauma than most people and the majority being female and Caucasian. Despite the population sampled, the very strong reliability was anticipated to be representative of a wider population, and doctoral students have been curious about completing follow-up randomized studies.

Already translated into French and Spanish, the scale has translation interest for Norwegian and South Korean as well. It is available for a small fee for clinicians. Clients take the test online while in the therapist’s office; it takes less than 10 minutes to complete, and profile results are immediately available for therapist interpretation.

“The Model is so elegant, so important and powerful. It changed my life! I love using it with my clients, and I want to support any further research that anyone wants to do with it,” reports Lia.

IFS researchers receive the scale gratis, with Lia’s request that they work with and make a donation to the Foundation for Self Leadership because, as she shares, “I believe in the Model and want to support anyone using the Model to strengthen and disseminate it, so it becomes more frequently used. I love what the Foundation is doing!” For more information, contact Lia at liadeland5@gmail.com.

[Note: Lia’s IFS Scale is different from the IFS adherence scale developed for research purposes to ensure fidelity to the IFS protocol. The latter, whose inter-rater reliability study was funded by the Foundation, can be found here.]




Beyond Psychotherapy
& Counseling


IFS applications have been steadily infused across many disciplines outside the realm of psychotherapy over the last several years. We’ve seen them in the business, law, and coaching practices; in the domain of prisons and schools; and to help resolve conflict in the Middle East. In all cases, the central concepts of IFS appear to bring meaning and value to many individuals and groups in small and large ways. Within diverse topics and uses of IFS, one theme is often present, but not always spoken about—spirituality. No matter where the Model is used, many are deeply touched by the spiritual nature of this work.

In past editions of OUTLOOK, we have featured many areas where others are using IFS. Here we introduce three members of our community who have used IFS directly in their daily work: a Christian minister, a Zen Buddhist priest, and a Christian Orthodox priest. OUTLOOK asked for their thoughts on how divided world religions are and how they see the potential impact of IFS on bridging different spiritual beliefs and on global peace.

It is our pleasure to introduce you to these three gentlemen, who have been deeply affecting the lives of countless members of their communities for several decades, and their views on peace.


Rev. Denny Moon

“Those who are at the core of their religion are closer to those who are at the core of other religions than those who are at the fringes of their own religion. Faithful Muslims are closer to faithful Christians than they are to ISIS members. Faithful Christians are closer to faithful Jews than they are to K.K.K. members. The first-hand experience of God is similar for all human beings and the theology/beliefs about God are secondary. This is why IFS could be a powerful force for world peace, because it nurtures the experience of Self, i.e., the image of God, and thus, connects all religions through their primary feeling and resulting wisdom.” –Rev. Denny Moon


Rev. Moon, who took his IFS Level One in 2015, has been a minister at United Church of Christ in Granby, Connecticut for 11 years. During L1, he was able to befriend and see his inner critic as an ally, and with whom he still converses in his daily mediation, rather than an enemy. “Continuing my IFS therapy has “The first-hand experience of God is similar for all human beings and the theology/beliefs about God are secondary.” made me less reactive to the criticism I receive from others and has increased my ease in telling people, ‘I don’t know the answer to that,’ which formerly felt threatening to parts of me,” he shares. It is in having close relationships with his own parts, that he incorporates the language and lens of IFS within all aspects of his work.

His written liturgy in worship speaks directly of parts in their weekly confession reading about sin. In Christianity, sin is seen as a break in relationship with our higher selves, others, or God. Thus, IFS fosters the restoration of this relationship. A poignant example of one of his liturgies:


We confess that we are often conflicted. A part of us makes a promise but another part is afraid to keep it. A part of us wants to accept all people and another part thinks it has to protect us by rejecting others. A part of us wants to be humble but another part fears that we really have to look better than others in order to be acceptable. Forgive us, for all parts of us are intending good.


One: When we get to know our different parts, we come to see each and every one of them wants the best for us and others.

All: When they feel accepted by us, they begin to be allies with our soul, our higher self, and we begin to live in a measure of peace. Amen.

In his sermons, after reading scripture, he uses analogies and stories with the framework of IFS to assist members of his congregation to befriend, understand, and speak for, rather than from, parts. During his monthly Leadership Team meetings, members share their vulnerable “weekly ups and downs” by reflecting upon and speaking for their different parts. Even his pastoral associates are coming on board. About having discovered her Lawyer Part, one pastoral associate remarked, “It is very helpful to know it’s just a part me and not all of me. I’m getting better at calling it forth in the right situations, but asking it to step aside in others.” Likewise, within his pastoral care and counseling, his parishioners report great relief in unblending from a part and seeing their positive intention. Rev. Moon may be reached at denny@southchurch.necoxmail.com.

rev denny moon l

“The first-hand experience of God is similar for all human beings and the theology/beliefs about God are secondary.”


Flint Sparks, PhD

“There seems to be a universal yearning to come into some relationship with the inconceivable mystery of it all. I see IFS as a form of deep inquiry into the nature of Self, other and community, that opens the gates of healing and peace. However, people have to be willing to look closely and appreciate the parts of them who fearfully attach to beliefs in order to cling to the false notions of safety or an ultimate protector. It is this clinging that disrupts peace and divides. If I am right and you are wrong, then ruptures can happen. If we are all in this deep process together, then our differences become beautiful ornaments of the divine rather than barriers to love. Why do we indulge in a list of habits that inevitably leads to conflict? How do we stay caught by parts and lose our center in Self? We hate being vulnerable, frightened, sad, frustrated, and ashamed. But the truth is, none of these conditions are stable. None of these shifting realities are ultimately who we are. No matter what we do, things will change, often in directions we don’t like. And, no matter how hard we work to improve ourselves we will always be human - messy and complex. IFS provides a map for a real human life that is not led by attachments, adherence, fixations, addictions, obsessions, and holding firmly to old beliefs and habits.” –Flint Sparks, PhD


Flint Sparks, PhD is a former therapist and Clinical Psychologist as well as an ordained Zen Buddhist priest. He is a resident teacher at Appamada, a Center for Contemporary Zen Practice and Inquiry in Austin, Texas. He has been using IFS with both clients and students as a Zen teacher for over twenty years. In his community’s Precepts Program, a year-long study program which focuses on the moral and ethical guidelines of Buddhism, in Practice Discussion Groups, which meet weekly in to deepen participants’ spiritual inquiry and practice, and in larger weekly public Inquiry groups, Flint integrates the principles of the IFS Model with Zen practice.

His students find IFS very accessible to follow because they recognize the qualities of Self to be in accordance with the ideal of maturity and wakefulness. In each group setting, he assists students in understanding the bodhisattva ideal as the embodiment of Self (bodhisattva is a person who, out of compassion, delays reaching nirvana in order to save suffering beings). As students move through their inquiry process, some identify parts that have been barriers to awakening or that surface in meditation practice that have bound-up spiritual energy.

He describes, “They can learn to view their parts as inner beings who suffer unnecessarily. Self is the enactment of an inner-bodhisattva committed to freeing parts from this unnecessary suffering (unburdening). Meditation and the cultivation of a mindful witnessing function supports a stepping back and turning toward parts with all the qualities of Self energy (unblending).” Because opening to Self-energy is a goal, group members hold Self- energy for one another, similar to IFS workshops and trainings, which deepens their work individually and collectively. One student explains, “Years of Zen training had helped me learn to sit with readiness to meet whatever arises. The IFS process helped support my natural intuition, released the inherent wisdom of the parts that were met, and allowed the fixations and beliefs to be released and transformed.” Flint may be reached at flint@flintsparks.org.

Flint Sparks

“If we are all in this deep process together, then our differences become beautiful ornaments of the divine rather than barriers to love.”


Very Rev. Antony Hughes

“Fear is the reason for world division. The Internet has opened new doors making world religions and wisdom traditions accessible at the touch of a button. Walls are coming down. People are searching and discovering new and old paths to self-discovery in places that they did not expect. The world people lived in no longer exists—it is porous and constantly changing and people are reacting with fundamentalism and fanaticism as a protection against the perceived threats to the status quo. The situation appears to be worsening so the reaction is becoming more extreme. With wisdom literature easily available, many people are leaving churches for meditation halls and yoga, etc. because they find something that helps them connect with God, ameliorate their suffering, and bring inner peace. In my church and in Christianity in general, the exit is troubling to many. My message is they may well be leaving for good reasons and demonizing them is counter-productive. IFS can help us understand the basis of dualistic divisiveness because it speaks of what I see as the heart of religion: the presence of the image of God in every human being. It transcends religious boundaries. I believe helping people connect with their True Self and notice and heal their extreme parts will bring us all closer together.” –Very Rev. Antony Hughes


Very Rev. Antony Hughes has been an Orthodox priest at St. Mary’s Orthodox Church in Cambridge, Massachusetts for the past 25 years. Upon completing his IFS Level One three years ago, he told his cohorts, “What I was supposed to have gotten out of church, is what IFS provides – a tool for spiritual growth, some- thing pragmatic to enter into interior growth.” Because IFS deeply resonated with him, Father Antony, a self-reported IFS-evangelist, returned to his congregation and began using it within nearly every aspect of his ministry. He has even inspired four seminarians and four parishioners to take the IFS training. “IFS is transformative and, like prayer, meditation, and sacramental living, informs my daily life. I see my own parts and help others to recognize theirs.”

Though trained in Orthodox Christianity which he believes when it is misinterpreted can be narrow-minded, he works comfortably with Buddhists, Jews, and people of any religious tradition, reassuring through his own parts work his once-fearful parts about others. It is in having conscious, open dialogue, framed with parts language, that internal and external peace can be found, he asserts. “I don’t think you can accomplish that without Self-energy. Self-energy is so powerful,” says Fr. Antony.

He sees more commonalities than differences now, such as the parallels between Christ Consciousness and Buddha Nature. Uniting differences, Fr. Antony often shares a favorite quote by Jean Claude Barreau, “Whose fault is it that so many have to resort to Tao or Zen in order to discover truths which were actually part of the Christian heritage from the beginning?” Fr. Antony earnestly enjoys helping people find for themselves a spirituality that works and is not afraid of where that path may lead them. In this work, he finds IFS to be uniquely helpful because, he says, “that which is the heart of religion is what we are talking about in IFS.”

For the past ten years, Fr. Antony has visited men in prison as part of his pastoral ministry. In his groups, he provides an IFS perspective, Christianity reinterpreted in the light of the mystical approach at the center of Orthodox Christianity, Buddhist psychology, and meditation to help these men come to terms with where they are, what they’ve done, and with reintegration once they prepare to leave. He says the results of using IFS in his work are astonishing and nothing short of miraculous. One inmate, in particular, brought Father to tears when one day the inmate told him, “I realized something really important: the prison is in my mind.” Fr. Antony may be reached at frawhj@gmail.com.

frantony laugh 021

“I believe helping people connect with their True Self and notice and heal their extreme parts will bring us all closer together.”


Teaching Teachers: IFS in Inner-City Schools, a Pilot Program

Another example of the utilization of constructs of the IFS Model (parts & Self) is within the field of education. Many have envisioned IFS concepts and language to be accessible to students at schools. What a great practice to start early! Understanding oneself and others through the IFS lens would be a desirable step toward preventing and peacefully negotiating/resolving conflict among students (or among parents and teachers for that matter) and instituting peaceful climates at our schools across the globe.

Some IFS practitioners have already taken their own initiative and started this work. Among them is Jody Nelson, EdD, LMFT, who has been bringing IFS to schools in Minneapolis, Minnesota, for over a decade. In collaboration with her, the Foundation is currently launching a new pilot program this fall to resource middle school teachers utilizing IFS principles. This effort is consistent with the Foundation’s strategic interest to introduce IFS to schools and children.

Jody is one of the founders of the Community School Collaborative, which provides school-based student support services including prevention, early intervention and diagnostic assessment/treatment planning in 25 schools in the Twin Cities. With partners Jim Nelson, PhD, LMFT, Jennifer Ramji, MA, LMFT, and Lisa Xiong, MA, LMFT, she provides professional development, relational climate assessments and training on issues related to trauma and resilience, adolescent and brain development, culture and community, and relationship building in the classroom and schools.

This pilot program has a joint “education-and-research” objective. The dual intent is to (1) implement a proof-of-concept IFS educational program for teachers, as a step toward introducing IFS to students; and (2) conduct a preliminary study to learn about the efficacy of such approach and its effects on both teachers and students.

Two urban middle schools in Minneapolis were selected for this program: Northeast Middle School (NEMS) in Northeast Minneapolis and Justice Page Middle School (JPMS) in south Minneapolis. NEMS has a diverse student body (79% from ethnic and cultural minority communities, primarily African American and Latino) challenged by poverty and other barriers to school success (20% receiving special education services; 20% English Language Learners; 83% receiving free or reduced lunch; and 7% homeless/ highly mobile). JPMS, in comparison, has nearly half (49%) of its students from ethnic and cultural minority communities, also primarily African American and Latino, with 46% receiving free or reduced lunch, 13% receiving special education services, and 3 % homeless/highly mobile. Middle schools were chosen for the focus of the pilot program for the fact that middle school

teachers, given the developmental stage of their students, must be resourced with the ability to bring Self-energy into the classroom in order to be effective. The Community School Collaborative provides school-based mental health services at both schools and has the support of both principals.

The program involves general introduction to all teachers and a series of extensive, in-depth sessions for select teachers.

INTRO: On August 23, 2017, Jody presented IFS to the entire staff of NEMS and will repeat the presentation to the staff of JPMS School on November 2. The goal of the presentations was to provide the school communities with IFS principles and language and to create awareness and curiosity of how the Model might resource classroom teachers.

IN-DEPTH, INWARD LOOKING: Eight teachers will be recruited from each school to participate in bi-weekly, two-hour group sessions that will span a ten-month period, from November 2017 – August 2018. The first five months will focus primarily on teaching IFS principles and processes to teachers, with an emphasis on unblending and accessing Self.

OUTWARD-LOOKING: In the second five months, teachers will be invited to consider how their ability to unblend and access Self-energy may affect their teaching and their student’s learning in the classroom.

OPERATION & EVALUATION: Teachers will be paid a stipend to compensate their out-of-contract time. The project will be evaluated using a pre-post program survey through which teachers will self-report on their capacity to unblend and access qualities of Self leadership. Teachers will note their observations of their students, though journaling, with an emphasis on the teacher observing and listening. Interviews with teachers at the end of the project will gather qualitative data on teacher and student impact. Data about student performance and disciplinary referrals will also be tracked to observe any changes in the process.

This project may extend a second year with trained teachers integrating IFS into their classroom practices so that “all parts are welcome.” Speaking of the social and emotional learning efforts in schools, Jody explains, “Most mindfulness-based education is focused on the student. To our knowledge, there is little focus on resourcing and preparing the teacher. We know they are the most critical piece to resilience and protective factors in schools.” Jody may be reached at jnelson@gapschool.org.

[The Foundation invites donations from the community to support this effort. There will be valuable observations and study results to build upon as the Foundation endeavors to replicate successful features of this program in other urban schools and school districts around the U.S. and elsewhere.]


MargaretMoore BookIMG
Strengths & Balance Inside Out: IFS in Coaching

The application of IFS in the field of life and executive coaching is rapidly developing. “Multiplicity of mind” is gaining acceptance as a viable lens for enhancing client self-awareness and growth. Getting to know the strengths of the subpersonalities (i.e., parts) is still a relatively novel approach to helping clients engage and balance their strengths. Coaches can use Self energy to help clients bring Self to their parts, enhancing inner collaboration in service of reaching their goals. The increasing traction of multiplicity-of-the-mind approaches in coaching is leading to publications, articles and books on IFS in coaching.


IFS-enthusiast, executive coach, coach trainer and prolific writer, Margaret Moore, MBA, has written numerous peer-reviewed papers, articles, and books. Her 2016 Harvard Health book, Organize Your Emotions, Optimize Your Life: Decode Your Emotional DNA-and Thrive, is steeped in IFS theory. Aimed at getting to know one’s emotions to bring harmony to one’s Inner Family, discover unknown strengths, and improve self-mastery, Margaret, also known as Coach Meg, inspires readers to tune inside to improve their outer lives. One of her peer-reviewed articles, Coaching the Multiplicity of Mind: A Strengths-based Model, published in 2013 in the Global Advances in Health and Medicine journal, features a strengths-based model of IFS and anticipates that it “...may be used as a tool for training coaches to bring their whole selves to coaching engagements, in addition to leading to coaching processes that help clients better access, understand, and balance the inner voices and forces that drive their emotions, thoughts, beliefs, and behaviors.”

Having been a coach trainer and coach since 2002, it wasn’t until five years ago when Margaret took her first IFS workshop that she began to uncover some of her own hidden strengths: introverted and extraverted parts that had many gifts to offer, which had been eclipsed by her protectors. This important realization inspired her to explore her own inner system intimately, investing an hour a day to interview her parts and settle their agitations. From her inner work, she developed a two-pronged coaching approach: (1) she helps people see that we all have a collection of parts that form our ego identity while eclipsing quieter parts;

and (2) she teaches a quick technique, known as the “declipse habit,” aimed at settling a part’s agitation, where individuals bring appreciation and acceptance to an agitated part before asking it to step aside to enable Self leadership and access to higher wisdom. Sound familiar?

Moore has just written the first coaching book chapter on IFS in Coaching, to be published by Springer (2018) in The Professional Coach’s Desk Reference. The chapter describes four models of IFS in Coaching, including models from collaborators Toufic Hakim, Ph.D., Laura Crandall, Ed.M., Mark Hurwich, MBA, and Isabel D’Arenberg, along with Moore’s model.

Now Margaret is connecting her strengths-based IFS model to personality frameworks used by coaches such as the Enneagram, Meyers-Briggs, Jung cognitive processes, and the Big Five Factor model, to help clients see their dominant and less-dominant parts. “My introverted intuitive part (aka Meaning Maker) wonders daily about a unified theory of the personality, “Margaret remarks about synchronizing the personality frameworks with IFS. “It’s like each personality model sees one piece of the same elephant,” continues Margaret; “I want to help everyone see more of the elephant and appreciate a common scaffolding for all the personality frameworks.” Coaches can now help their clients increase their impact in the outside world by growing understanding of their inside world. For more information on Margaret and links to her many publications, visit her website.


“We want to look deeply at humanity, explore and shed light on polarizations, both internal and external, and bring awareness to the notion of inner diversity and Self leadership,”
Multiplicity on the Big Screen

Award winning filmmaker and IFS coach Jen Kleiner, MFA, CPLC has partnered with CSL to make a documentary about multiplicity for mainstream audiences. It follows several subjects from all walks of life exploring how people deal with and embrace their multiplicity, as well as provides historical context with supporting research on how parts awareness transforms the way humans interact, develop and heal. “We want to look deeply at humanity, explore and shed light on polarizations, both internal and external, and bring awareness to the notion of inner diversity and Self leadership,” explains Jen.

The inspiration for the documentary arises from a life-long journey of wanting to understand how good people do bad things, why cultural icons mirror shadow aspects of us in the meta-story, and explore the polarized aftermath of last year’s election. In the film, singer songwriter Alanis Morissette shares her struggles with addictions and polarizations around being an activist and a mom. With warmth and self-effacing depth, she brings candor to her own experiences of ascertaining the dream of fame only to realize that, behind the curtain, it doesn’t do anything to fulfill parts unless Self can be present for them. The film will spend a lot of time exploring how embracing multiplicity brings about physical, emotional and

spiritual transformation, even for people considered hopeless or unredeemable. “In order to accept outer diversity, we need to embrace inner diversity,” Jen says.

The film is being produced by veteran filmmaker Tani Cohen (No Pay Nudity, and HBO’s Mr. Conservative: Goldwater on Goldwater) with the Center for Self Leadership as Executive Producer. Full funding for the documentary is still needed for completion.

If you would like to contribute, please contact jen@intuitiveartists.org.

Alanis OUTLOOKfinal

Searchable Online IFS Resource Database Going Live

We announced the IFS Annotation Project back in the October 2015 edition of OUTLOOK. The Project, led by Jenn Matheson, PhD, LMFT, and funded by the Foundation, consisted of a comprehensive review and “annotation” of published IFS articles of relevance to researchers who wish to study IFS. Developing this important resource supports the Foundation’s priority of expanding empirical evidence for IFS, deepening its recognition as an evidence-based clinical practice.

The annotation of all publications on IFS is a large undertaking, and the work is ongoing with the help of volunteers. While the database currently comprises only a fraction of all IFS publications that were completed in Phase I, we plan to have every publication on IFS annotated and listed in this


database. The Annotation Project volunteers continue to review and annotate every clinical article and book that includes IFS.

This list of annotated published IFS articles will be accessible through the Foundation’s website, as a component of a new Resources section being developed, as a searchable Resource Database that will go live at the end of October. The programming for the database was made possible through the work of Joshua Lisojo, MS, and our own volunteer website developer Grant Leitheiser, LMFT.

Conforming to copyright laws, this online database provides a listing of the publications, along with information highlighting the research applicability of each piece. Other searchable variables help users determine the appropriateness of each document for their own needs. Each entry also contains source information to help locate the original document. Some of the content articles may be found on Open Access platforms; others may be accessed through university or public library systems.

The Annotation Team is always looking for new volunteers. New volunteers will be trained and given a list of articles to review and annotate. Please contact Jenn Matheson at research@FoundationIFS.org to inquire further.



How Can IFS Help Soothe the
Immigrant Experience?

Much of the last year has seen a renewed social and political dialogue
on issues of immigration and the plight of immigrants seeking refuge
in the US and around our world. Many immigrants come to our shores
not only with their own recent experience of trauma and dislocation but also
with family and cultural histories that carry many legacy burdens.

The effects of these experiences shape narratives, and “parts” expression, in both the immigrant communities and elements of the host society. They have profound implications for who we are as nations and present a challenge to our very identities. Will the self-protective forces that are triggered by immigration be the last word, or will we find the resources to welcome newcomers to our shores in a spirit of safety and openness to their stories? How we collectively address the opportunity that immigration presents will not only define the experience of those who seek refuge on our shores, but will also define the very nature of the refuge that we have to offer.

Through the IFS Model, we assert that all parts are welcome. A healthy personal system cannot emerge without that affirmation. Like individuals, social groups operate as a system in which the affirmation that all parts are welcome is equally important to a harmonious and depolarized society. Rejection of immigrant communities is a rejection of critical parts of our collective Self. Such rejection has the inevitable effect of feeding the very fears that rejectionists seek to protect.

As a child of immigrants who grew up in Poland and survived the horrors of Plaszow, Grossrosen, and Auschwitz, I am keenly aware of the emotional burdens and history of trauma that many of these immigrants bring to

our shores. In my own personal history, IFS has been an incredibly effective tool to enable me to gain perspective on the inherited effects of trauma and dislocation. It has helped me reorient my worldview, albeit 70 years after World War II. How different would the journey of immigrant survivors and their descendants be if they had the opportunity to experience IFS shortly after their arrival on our shores? How different would the experience of the host communities be if they were able to understand how their own stories shaped their attitude toward strangers?

In my role as a member of the Foundation’s Board, and on behalf of the Foundation, I would like to issue an invitation to the IFS community to explore with us ways in which IFS might be brought to immigrant communities. The Board is considering how to serve communities in need through the IFS worldview and practice. Might it be a survival package or a helping hand during a challenging transition? Might it be a way for communities to reconcile and create a greater sense of Self?

We welcome your ideas and look forward to supporting strategies and programs to help immigrant communities feel welcome as they adjust effectively and peacefully to their new environment. Please feel free to reach out to me with your insights around this theme. I can be reached at Lester@FoundationIFS.org. __Les Fagen, MA, JD



Inspiring Self-leadership: An Update on Mount-Hike

In April, OUTLOOK featured Ray Mount, PhD, who had just set about on a six-month, 2,200-mile pilgrimage along the Appalachian Trail to access more Self leadership as he prepared for retirement and as a fundraiser for the Foundation. Extreme winds kept him from finishing the summit of Mt. Katahdin on September 28th, his expected completion date. At the time of this publication he anticipates having crossing the finish line the first week of October. Along the way, he raised a total of $7,305, to date, toward bringing more Self leadership into our world. Having only just crossed the finish line, OULTOOK invited Ray to share some of his insights.


Although he felt he had received what he had sought—connection with nature, spiritual renewal, and time to work out new philosophies to take into retirement—when he reached Harper’s Ferry, the half-way point, he kept going. Why? “I completed this hike, because I started it. It’s as simple as that,” Ray shared. While pushing himself to finish may have initially felt self-abusive to some of his parts, he learned how to deeply be with himself in a very nurturing way. This led to many insights, one of which was of self-critical parts releasing judgment.


“I learned to look back down the mountain and revel over what I’d just done, rather than look up and ahead with apprehension and self-doubt.”


Ray reflects, “I learned to look back down the mountain and revel over what I’d just done, rather than look up and ahead with apprehension and self-doubt. And I rediscovered and enabled one of the huge missing “c-words” (i.e., qualities of Self) —confidence. Confidence that my loyal and, at times, extreme protectors could stand down and let Me (Self) handle it. When I climbed slippery rocks and my parts were scared, I’d sit down and hold the fearful parts until their fears subsided, promising that we didn’t need to keep climbing until those parts were comfortable.”

Looking back on the six-month “retreat from life” along the Appalachian Trail, Ray realized his initial generalized intentions had solidified. The fact he learned to hike in Self-energy ignited a strong desire to bring those lessons learned along the trail of living in Self-energy forward, as he transitions back into “normal life.” This means being an active and intimate part of the IFS community, including a commitment to further fundraise for the Foundation and by introducing IFS to environments with veterans, in schools, and with adolescents in wilderness therapy programs.

He envisions creating opportunities for people to not only witness their parts, but to “hang out” with them. “To me, this was key: I spent so much time with my parts, that it gave me an opportunity to coordinate (harmonize) their efforts in a way that we now feel like a team or tribe. Each part making a valuable contribution, rather than each vying for an opportunity to be heard or creating a void of Self where they could take over,” he reports. To assist others in having similar experiences within their own systems brings him much excitement and joy. Ray continues, “The Model, with parts (protectors and exiles) and Self, has become so very real for me. My parts became my hiking buddies, to the degree that I have not felt alone, insecure, or vulnerable for a long time; yet, I have spent most of the last 6 months alone with very little contact with the outside world.” Having taken over 5,000 photos, Ray also intends to create slide-show presentations specifically about this hike as it pertains to the Model and Self-leadership. He invites you to connect with him to bring this to your area.

The Foundation extends congratulations and appreciation for both his success in his personal endeavors with this hike, for the funds he brought in to continue to advance IFS through our missions, and for his continued desire to be an integral part of the community moving forward—one step at a time. His many adventures along the trail were captured in his blog.




Four years ago, the Foundation was launched to support IFS research and garner for IFS an empirical, evidence-based status as a clinical practice.

The Foundation’s Board pursued this goal early on, taking advantage of a study by Shadick, Sowell, et al. that had been recently published. A comprehensive, rigorous application, making the compelling case for such a status, was completed and filed with the US Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration’s NREPP registry. Basing its decision on the findings of the published research paper, NREPP gave IFS five evidence ratings (one effective and four promising)— in essence recognizing IFS as an evidence-based practice.

This was an important milestone for IFS as a clinical intervention, but only one among several milestones achieved since Summer 2013.

Since Summer 2013...

Seeking additional scientific evidence and expanded evidence ratings, to the extent suggested by science, the Foundation set up an independent grant-review process and funded two research studies: one completed and being published, the other showing steady and significant progress. Additionally, an annotation project was funded to review key IFS articles of possible use to researchers, and an IFS fellowship research program launched to support graduate students in mental health professions. (See updates on related developments in this edition of OUTLOOK.)

And beyond supporting research, a lot was accomplished over the last four years. Among them: hosting conversations about promoting IFS as a clinical modality in academic institutions, IFS as a team-building process among organizational and executive coaches, and exploring ways to bring IFS training to mental health agencies as one strategy for serving marginalized communities—the latter remains a very active conversation.

In addition, the Foundation joined Education 4 Peace to develop a global initiative aiming to promote emotional health and well-being through self-awareness and started serious discussions with Disney/Pixar to produce animated public service announcements featuring world-renowned athletes and characters from the movie Inside Out as a way to disseminate notions of inner parts and Self among youth engaged in sport around our world. Developments around these will be shared in due time.

What will the next four years look like, and what else can the Foundation achieve with the support of and alongside the community? These are the sorts of questions that the Board addressed at a June 2017 weekend retreat, which set in place three key priorities to pursue, all focused on advancing emotional healing and well-being through IFS, as both a clinical protocol and a way to view the human psyche. A number of other strategies complement and support these priorities.

1. Research on Treating PTSD with IFS: Building on encouraging funded study results, we will catalyze, support, or inspire a large-scale randomized-controlled study probing the efficacy of IFS as a treatment choice for clients with PTSD. This is of special value considering the great need for PTSD treatments among war veterans in particular, as well as increased incidents of violence in our world.

2. IFS in Schools: The Foundation intends to promote IFS notions of parts and Self among students as a way to usher in greater social harmony and inner resilience. We will be launching educational programs to introduce teachers and parents to concepts of Self-leadership as one strategy for reaching students. Expanding upon what a few members of the community have started doing, we will support a one-year Pilot Education/ Research Program at two urban middle schools in the city of Minneapolis-St. Paul, Minnesota (more on this in this edition of OUTLOOK). Results of this study will help the Board expand the program to multiple sites.

3. Service to Communities in Need: The Foundation is committed to bringing IFS as a healing modality and a process for resolving conflicts to marginalized groups that might not otherwise have access to it. We are engaged in conversations to sponsor IFS training/research efforts at mental health agencies serving at-risk individuals and groups. We anticipate doing so, initially, with agencies that meet certain criteria, including having an IFS champion already on board and a sustainable clinical supervision model: a public county agency, a VA center, and a group of nonprofit organizations.



Why do you donate to the Foundation?

“I enjoy contributing to the Foundation for Self Leadership because the experience of IFS is truly healing from the inside out. The more that people experience it, the more healing and compassion there is on the planet. My vision is to build a local community where the staff and volunteers at homeless shelters, hospitals, nonprofits, and local churches who serve similar populations are all trained in IFS. Sharing this language and deep internal understanding of humanity offers society a new way of being with each other, and I want to be part of that. The Foundation works hard to make this happen by expanding awareness, providing the research necessary for academia and clinical acceptance, providing scholarships for training, and more. My parts dance with joy knowing that the money give helps people around the world have better relationships with themselves and others.”
–Michele Quesenberry, Prince Frederick, Maryland.

Expanding the depth and breadth of IFS healing is made possible by the members of our community. In each of your own ways, you are instrumental in creating a better world. Together, we are achieving the Foundation’s missions. We are forever grateful for everyone’s contributions, whether financial, with volunteer time, or in myriad other ways, large and small. Thank you!


What inspires you to donate?

Please share your story to OUTLOOK@FoundationIFS.org.

Wondering how you can support more Self leadership in our world?

Fortunately, there are many creative ways you can contribute to advancing IFS through your Foundation:

  • direct financial donations (larger or small)
  • bequests, in memory of or in honor of a loved one
  • creating your own fundraising event
  • indirect contributions via Smile.Amazon.com
  • volunteering in a number of ways, or
  • simply placing one of our fliers in your office or on your website

Do you have other ideas? We would love to hear them. Please visit our website for examples of supporting the Foundation.



iStock 820379358 super

What would you like to see in OUTLOOK?

Do you know of any IFS-related news our community would like to know? Do you know of a client eager to share about their transformation? Please share with us such developments or happenings within one of these categories: IFS research, IFS within psychotherapy or programming, and IFS applications beyond psychotherapy.

Please complete the or send general information in a short email to Michelle Glass at OUTLOOK@foundationIFS.org. We will reach out to you for additional details or specific guidelines. Thank you for your submissions and helping keep our community apprised of IFS-related endeavors.

Editors of OUTLOOK reserve the right to make final decisions regarding content of OUTLOOK.



About IFS

Founded in the early 1980’s by family therapist and author Richard Schwartz, PhD, Internal Family Systems (IFS) Therapy suggests that the “inner self” is not a single persona but rather a complex system of distinct parts (thoughts, feelings, and beliefs), each with its own viewpoints, desires and agendas. The main agenda of these parts is to protect us from inner pain generated through developmental and life traumas. The Model rejects psychopathology and posits that there is an undamaged Self with healing attributes that is at the core of each individual, even in the presence of extreme behavior.

The Model continues to generate growing interest among psychotherapists and practitioners outside the realm of psychotherapy, where it promises a myriad of applications simply as a thought process. Thousands of practitioners have been trained in IFS through a rigorous training program, administered by The Center for Self Leadership; and tens of thousands of therapy clients and workshop attendees have experienced personal transformations through the IFS paradigm.

Read more about IFS at FoundationIFS.org.



The Foundation for Self Leadership is an independent, not-for-profit 501(c)(3) organization registered in Illinois, U.S.A. Its mission is to advance IFS research, promote the IFS model far and wide within and beyond psychotherapy, and increase access to IFS trainings for communities in needs, especially among at-risk individuals and groups.

The Board and Foundation are supported
by a number of associates and volunteers:

Mary Mitrovich, part-time Financial Controller; Barbara Levine, MSSA, LICSW, Secretary to the Board (Volunteer); Michele Bruce, part-time Administrative Staff; Jenn Matheson, PhD, LMFT, Senior Coordinator (Volunteer); Anne Eberhardt, Dipl.-Psych, Operational Associate (Volunteer); Elizabeth Southwell, Coordinator for IFS Research Fidelity; Grant Leitheiser, MS, LMFT, Website Programmer and Developer (Volunteer); Jill Stanzler-Katz, MSW, LICSW, Volunteer Coordinator (Volunteer); and Michelle Glass, Editor of OUTLOOK and Donor Stewardship Associate.

Board of Directors:

  • Harley Goldberg, DO; Physician Executive, Kaiser Permanente, U.S.A.; Chair (2018)
  • Frank G. Anderson, MD; Practicing Psychiatrist and Certified IFS Therapist, U.S.A.; Vice Chair and Executive Director, Development and Research; Clinical Supervisor for IFS Research Studies (2018)
  • Lester Fagen, MA, JD; Partner in Business Office of Cooley, LLP, U.S.A. (2017)
  • Toufic Hakim, PhD; Senior Managing Principal, Group i&i Consultancy, U.S.A.; Executive Director, Operations and Communications; Publisher of OUTLOOK & Other Print/Online Media Content (2019)
  • Pamela Krause, LCSW; Lead IFS Trainer, in Private Practice, U.S.A. (2019)
  • Vicki McCoy, MA; President, McCoy Communications and Training, U.S.A. (2020)
  • Mark Milton, Founding Director, Education 4 Peace, Switzerland (2017)